A friend of mine asked me to comment on netbooks versus notebooks, so I sent her the below message, slightly modified for this blog.
A 6-cell battery lasts longer than a 3-cell battery. For this reason, always go 6-cell if one can.
- Samsung – Cyber-Monday priced Samsung – $269 – (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Samsung+-+Netbook+with+Intel%26%23174%3B+Atom%26%23153%3B+Processor+-+Black/9569816.p?id=1218127632119&skuId=9569816) looks like a decent unit. It comes with Windows 7 Starter edition and has a 6-cell battery. $269 and free shipping. I'd probably buy this one if I were going to buy a netbook today.
- Asus – $249 – I generally like Asus stuff, and this one (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Asus+-+Eee+PC+Netbook+with+Intel%26%23174%3B+Atom%26%23153%3B+Processor+-+Midnight+Blue/9556811.p?id=1218124205088&skuId=9556811) looks good. However, I think the $20 difference, for the Samsung, is worth it, just for the extra battery power if nothing else, because this one just has a 3-cell battery.
Netbooks are great for accessing the net (thus their name), as they are compact, have long battery lives, and can run basic applications. Some of them have Windows CE on them, which is the same OS that some hand held devices have. I would avoid those and instead aim for something with true Windows XP or Windows 7, as they will run more apps. Installing the fully free and compatible OpenOffice.org (www.openoffice.org) on them, for example, is a great idea, as they are great for doing papers and rudimentary spreadsheets. However, large spreadsheets are cumbersome, on the little screens. PowerPoint-type things…dunno, as I haven't tried them, and I don't have a netbook myself (I've just played with them).
If I had a spare $200 I just might pick one up, for myself, as my aged Gateway laptop has almost no battery life left, and taking it to Starbucks involves plugging it in, holding the power cord in it, as its now loose, etc. These little netbooks are simply convenient, for email, Facebook, and general Internet browsing, while on the go. I cannot see spending more than $200-$260 for one though. At that point one can really start to be in decent notebook country.
A $299 notebook can be seen here [update: out of stock] (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?Sku=A180-15614) . Yeah, it's an eMachine; I don't think of it as a fully modern notebook; it only has one processor (versus dual), but it's got more balls than a netbook and satisfies the minimum requirements for running medium level games. and being able to store adocuments documents.
Hope this helps.